Time to be careful...

New Years is one of those times that I love...and one of those times, most honestly, that I can sit back and kick myself for a while. Steve & I were talking yesterday or the day before (I've lost track) about "goals" for next year - and when he asked me mine, he just about stopped himself mid-sentence and then said, "you aren't much of a goal person are you?" Honestly - that's true. And I don't know that I ever have been...

I've re-written this post a couple of times trying to figure out what my point is, without knocking myself hard - or crying too much - or expecting too much and... being true to me. I think one of the dangers about new years is that we start to create these phantom images of who we think we need to be. I'm not saying that there may not be things about ourselves that need reflection or change --- but I think there's wisdom in choosing and being happy with who you are and what you are doing, and letting that be ok. Yet - too -- we need to balance that with avoiding the status quo for safety's sake.

2007 was full of change for us. Honestly - there is a part of me that just wants to coast through 2008. I don't want to plan any more change. I don't want to stretch any more. I don't want to give up anything else. And yet - I know that I need to be purposeful - I need to move forward and put forth my best effort. I need to reflect. I need to stretch. I need to give things up. Why is that so hard? Because this year was hard - it was good, but it was hard. And I want an easy year. That's just honest.

Why is it that I don't like to set goals? Hmmmmmm... I don't know. I guess that's something to think about... I'm finding myself on that fine line of journaling and processing vs. just a simple blog --- what's the difference? Is there a difference?

OK...this is going to get really long if I'm not careful. I like those posts that are just a here's what I did today kinda thing - they are easier. Hmmmm...maybe I like the easy way out? I don't know. I'm finding myself stumbling over words and feeling like I'm not making sense. Maybe I just need to read over the Christmas Bell again and remember who I am and who He is...and let the rest just be...(and then I felt peace...and calm, instead of tense...) OK. I'm going to do that now...

Things don't always turn out like you planned...

So...yesterday on a last minute whim we tried to just go out with "the adults" - get a sitter for a few hours - and head out to see the new National Treasure II: Book of Secrets, with Nicolas Cage. So - the sitter comes and the 4 "grown-ups" head out the door. We get to the theater to find the movie sold-out. So...not seeing another movie on the marquis that looked interesting, or showing at a time that would work, we climb back into the car to figure out another plan. How pathetic were we that we couldn't think of anything else to do that really sounded good? It was a classic "I don't know - what do you want to do?" kind of moment. Not wanting to "waste" the time out we ended up sending the guys back to relieve the babysitter and to feed the kids dinner, while "we" the girls went to see the movie at another theater in shift 1 --- then 2 1/2 hours later, the guys loaded up the cars with the kids and came down and we did the "switch" so the guys could see the later show, and we could get the kids home to bed...so we all saw National Treasure, but it wasn't exactly as we planned. When I got home and the kids were in bed, I saw the original movie was on tv, so it was cool to look back at the first National Treasure and see the correlations and things I might not have appreciated as much if it were a longer time between the two. That was fun. And when Steve got home we talked through the movie as though we had just seen it together.

Now - we loved the movie! It's a definite must see! And it's worth seeing in the theaters and not waiting for the dvd to come out.

Moral of the story --- when you have a night planned - have a back-up plan just in case something happens that's unexpected.


Are you kidding me??

OK..honestly - I was out on Christmas Eve to pick up a thing or two and there was VALENTINE'S DAY stuff on the shelves!! You've got to be kidding! When are we going to slow down and just enjoy the moment vs. racing so fast to the next thing, and therefore missing that which is right in front of us. UGH!!! Seriously - do we want to spend our life looking through the front windshield...or through our rearview mirror? Which view is better? The rearview mirror - about a 2" x 6" reflection, seen only in a glimpse or two, and wondering hey, what was that thing on the left... or looking out the front windshield - clear views to every side, huge picture, the road before us with so much to see... Sorry - just had to vent! and sorry, I'm not buying those Valentine's M&M's until late in January!!


We did it!

We had an Unwin 4 Christmas. For the first time in our immediate family history it was only the 4 of us for Christmas morning. Honestly - there was a part of it that was hard - missing family and friends, and remembering moment by moment times from Christmas past. On the other hand - it was really nice to just be us, relax, keep the house a mess, hang out together with no agenda so to speak...and just let the kids dig in and grab one gift to the next. Besides, Steve was sick, so he was able to watch the present extravaganza and then go back to bed for a few hours.

So...the kids scored big - again. Steve and I of course got the amazing fix of our van - and I got a Nike warm-up suit, yeah! and Steve got Planet Earth! We can't wait to watch it (have you seen it? another blog for another day!) The kids had a blast - from beginning to end.

Back up a couple of days - we had the most fun last Thursday morning. The kids came in noticing another morning where the presents were not under the tree, and I told them they weren't wrapped yet, and they said, well, mom, you can do it now. And so I proceeded to go into the closet, close the door and wrap presents - then put them out the door one by one for the kids to come get and place under the tree. It was hysterical! They were so cute as they called out to the other to say there was a gift for them, or to hear them trying to figure out what it was. Noah even at one point said, mom we like shaking them to see which ones make a fun noise!

Fast forward to Christmas morning. They were under strict warning that there would be no present opening before 7-0-0 (that's 7:00 am). Kaylee was up @ 6, and Noah at about 6:30. Steve was up of course (his body clock had him up early, not to mention not feeling well), but he got into the shower around 6:45, when Kaylee then came in a crawled in bed with me, placing her delightfully freezing toes on me and saying, "Ah, a warm place for my feet." (She is my girl - my feet are icebergs too!) Long story short - 15 minutes later we were all in front of the tree as the kids opened their gifts. Kaylee's highlights - Razor Scooter, Daisy Meadows Fairy Books, Magic Tree House books, Tea Set, a couple of craft kits, a camera & a robe she has hardly taken off in 3 days. Noah's highlights - Solar System mobile, Super Spy DVD & book, Mars mission Legos, Pirate ship, Seahawks shirt, Leap Pad, Space Shuttle set, remote control cars, games, and puzzles. Then, they both got a WEBKINZ - the gift of the year. So cute!

Oh...I just remembered one of my favorite moments of Christmas. At church this weekend I got to go to the service with Kaylee. She normally attends children's church during the hour that we have our middle school program, so it's a HUGE treat for Steve & I to do church with her. Anyway - on the morning of the 23rd, Josh Mann, my middle school ministry partner, was a part of the preaching team with our pastor John Stumbo. Josh did a great job painting a picture about the concept of Messiah, from Genesis to Jesus' birth - and how Jesus was indeed THE Messiah - Kaylee leaned over about half-way through Josh's message and said, Mom, why is Josh calling Jesus 'Messiah'? Now - part of that brought a yikes for me - why doesn't she know that? should she? did I mess something up that she wouldn't know that? don't let me say something that is going to send her into a tizzy of "huh"? On the other hand - here's my 7 year old girl, sitting and listening to a guy she is getting to know as a friend and a pastor and a teacher, hearing what messiah means, and processing in her head Messiah = Jesus, and wanting to know more! Talk about a Christmas gift! WOW! It was a couple of years ago on December 23rd when she told me she wanted Jesus in her heart, and I had the thrill of praying with her - and I love seeing her grab her faith as her own, not a tradition or even something that is just accepted because mom and dad say so - to ask questions, to be a young critical thinker (which is so much her daddy, moreso than me), to honestly want to know what it is she believes and not just that she believes it. Oh Lord, may you nurture this girl and grow her into the woman of God you want her to be. May I be the mom she needs, to play my part in preparing her for the call you have for her. I pray the same for Noah, except that he be the man of God you want him to be.

OK, I'm a long cry from waking up early Christmas morning for the crazy opening of gifts...but then again, it's all about Him isn't it?

P.S. Oops...I didn't mention that we weren't alone the whole time...our extended family here was our friends, The Condello's - who we've known 9 years, and somehow, someway, in God's great scheme of things He's placed us just 3 houses apart on the same street in Salem, Oregon - a long way from where we met in Georgia. Our kids are the best of friends, as are we the adults...to share Christmas meals with them, and Christmas Eve service as well, was just the bonus of being able to call them friend...and family! Thanks Condello's...for everything.


Merry Christmas!!!

This is one of my favorite songs ever --- originally done by Billy Crockett - Portrait of Love --- lyrics are posted below this YouTube link... This Christmas I hope you remember how much He loves you...

by: billy crockett

He wouldn't sit still long enough
To have His portrait done
His heart was set to move His life
At twice the speed of love

Artists who tried to freeze His style
On canvas or in stone
Found that real life
Isn't still life
Even when that life's alone

A traveling artist known as Paul
Painted truth with words
The truth that he saw was burning love
That comforts and disturbs

Each year he grew until he knew
The portrait couldn't wait
Without a sound
The man sat down
And he began to paint

Love is patient, love is kind
Never jealous, free of pride
Love will never be confine
And love will abide
Love is hopeful, love's not blind
Love is faithful, every time
Love is Someone, and
If you'll open your eyes, you'll find
That love is alive

Now love's gonna stand the test of time
Gonna stand when time is spent
Just look at the portrait painted
It's the Son the Father sent

He is patient, He is kind
Never jealous, free of pride
He will never be confine
And He will abide
Love is hopeful, love's not blind
Love is faithful, every time
Love is Someone, and
If you look in His eyes, you'll find
That love is alive

Love is Someone, and
If you look in His eyes, you'll find
Love is alive


The Christmas Bell...


I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17 )
I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth ( Matt.5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant ( Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God(2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God( Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16 ). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor.. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship(Eph. 2:10 )
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven(Col.1:14).I have been adopted as God's child(Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
who you are!?


17 years...

Today is our anniversary! If I had a scanner I'd put in a picture of us from our wedding day...and one from us now (well, that I can do). Steve and I have been married 17 years today! 17 years!! We were talking earlier about remembering when his sister was celebrating her 20th anniversary, and thinking about how that seemed forever...and here we are - actually next July 3 we will have known each other for 20 years. Whoa!

You know the cool thing - I love Steve more today than I did when I married him. He's the best best best best ever!! In so many ways this year has been a huge transition for us...and over and over we've compared it to starting over and being newly married again. We've started again from scratch, selling most everything before we moved, we did the long-distance thing (again) when the kids and I moved to Oregon before Steve did (that was awful to be without him), we lived in an apartment, that felt smaller than our first apartment, and probably was, we're in the midst of making new friendships, we're getting used to new schedules and new responsibilities...and we're 100% absolutely committed to each other, and totally excited about being together! There is no one else in the world I would rather be with than Steve!!

Now - anniversary tradition for us has almost always included picking a restaurant that is clearly having one of the worst service & cooking days possible, just giving us something else to laugh about. This year - was completely different. We went to Outback - a yummy "standard" vs. something off the beaten path - and the food was really good! I got nervous at first when the item I normally order wasn't on the menu...only to find that they had just changed the name. We had good, timely, friendly service! WOW! That's so rare for our anniversary... then... we went and saw the movie "Dan in Real Life." OK...this movie is a must see! I'm not a movie critic by any means, especially since this is only the 2nd movie I've seen in the theater since we've moved, but this movie is good! Steve Carell did a GREAT and very convincing job in this role - and we LOVED the soundtrack! It is primarily an artist named Sondra Lerche - and it was wonderful. I don't typically lean over to say I like a soundtrack - ok, Jack Johnston & Curious George, but this one was a definite...so much so that we downloaded it from iTunes when we got home. We loved the family in the story and their connection to one another...and laughed and missed family at the same time. It's definitely on my "buy it" list!!!

OK...but back to the main topic - my husband it the best! He's the greatest! He's amazing! I'm so blessed that we're The Unwins!! Happy Anniversary lobster! =)


Crash Video Academy Awards

I think I will be buzzing from our first annual Crash Video Academy Awards for a while. It was a blast to have each of our student grade levels (6th grade girls, 6th grade guys...and so on, plus our Oregon School of the Deaf group) each make "Christmas" videos and open themselves up to judging and the awarding of The Golden Rhino to the winners in each category. Now these weren't just videos - they were mini-movies - they were works of art. I was so excited for each of our groups as their videos were played - wait let's back up!

The night was complete with Golden Rhino awards, red carpet from the street to inside, where they were met by one of our leaders (they are all so amazing!) who interviewed them, asking them about their roles in their films, what designer they were wearing, what they expected from Christmas...In the main room we had tables set for 8, complete with centerpieces and snacks. Then as we got ready to start all of our amazing leaders came to pick up bottles of sparkling cider to pour for the students! Oh...did I mention the students were all dressed up too?? Ok, not all of them - but you know what...over half of the students were wearing award attire (black ties, formals...) and our leaders were completely sold out as well! OK...so after we showed all the videos it was on to the awards!

Golden Rhinos were given for Best Lead Performance, Best Supporting Performance, Best Duo/Group Performance, Best Comedic moment, Best Comedic performance, Best Costumes, Best Fight Scene, Best Leader Performance...and of course, Best Picture! The students voted on best picture...and the 8th Grade Boys are this year's winner! Congrats guys! I have to show you some pics to try to begin to grasp the night. We closed out by showing the "Linus" speech at the end of Charlie Brown's Christmas - you remember - "Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?" It was a great ending to 2007...and now...we wait for 2008 to see what Crash has in store for us...hmmmmmm???? Oh...you can check out everyone's videos on youtube @ www.youtube.com/joshpmann


O Come Let Us Adore Him...

OK...so each year I typically choose one person mentioned in the Christmas story and think about their perspective on the whole event. I try to put myself in their shoes, think about the ramifications of their actions or comments, how would I respond if it was today and now that God the Father decided to send Jesus the Son to the world. I so can't to meet Jesus face-to-face...but a lot of times I wonder if I had lived 2000+ years ago, would have been the skeptic, the doubter...would I have let them sleep at my house? Would I rejoice with the angels? Would I just stay out in the fields? Would I run without a second thought knowing that the God of all creation was now "with us"...in the form of a little baby who needed to be held and loved. (Oh, can you imagine - think about how cool it is to hold a new baby, just hours (or even minutes) old..and then for it to be Jesus, God in the flesh...whoa!

Anyway --- I started doing this a number of years ago, after hearing a sermon Christmas weekend on the character of Joseph. Until that point, still young in my Christian walk, I just kinda listened to the story, all the typical things you hear - angel talks to Mary, she and Joseph go to Bethlehem, Jesus is born, shepherds and wise men come - the end. But it's sooooo much more than that.

So...who am I thinking about this year? Actually I'm thinking about all those who didn't come to see him. Honestly - I can't imagine the volume of a multitude of heavenly hosts (a gazillion angels) singing "Glory to God in the Highest" not creating a little buzz as to something going on....and there was this huge star hanging out over where He was resting. Would I go running to see? Would I go, oh, it's just another baby? Would I find out He was sleeping in a feeding trough and say that's not good enough for My Savior - The Messiah for all mankind, and make something new? What was Herod thinking - or his warrior soldiers? What about Mary's family who wasn't near at the time Jesus was born? I know - The Bible doesn't specify so much about this story --- maybe we are just supposed to keep it simple...

Because, regardless of who else came...He came! That is amazing to me. He loves us and wants to be with us so He came to be "with us." Wow! I hope I really take the time to come and adore Him this year...


Lots of Family Fun...

We're all about having a few new traditions this year. We've kept some standards - cutting down a real tree, pierogies, setting up the nativity, reading the Christmas story, exchanging gifts...we still have to put handprints on the Christmas tree skirt, get our new Christmas pj's, listen to Christmas Shoes (just kidding)...anyway, I'll stop rambling. A new tradition which was so much fun was our introduction to the Christmas Festival at Silver Creek Falls State Park (is that the right name?).

Grace called a few days earlier and invited us to go, after we all came to their house for a little late morning breakfast. Then...we jumped into cars and headed towards Silver Creek. Somehow we ended up with the girls in our van which was fun as we sang Christmas carols together!! We had 4 vehicles full of people, young and old alike...and we had an absolute blast!! Volunteers set up the entire event, from hot chocolate and cookies, to a free Christmas tree (which we picked up for the youth center), to craft after craft after craft --- decorating Christmas bags, making birdhouses, constructing gingerbread houses, designing and making wreaths from pine clippings, making ornaments...and more I didn't even see. Noah wanted to go "see the mountain" with his Daddy, so after making his gingerbread house, he and Steve went to hike and see the waterfall - he's such a boy! And he loves his daddy (so do I). It was a bit cold, so I was grateful for those big heater lamps. Kaylee of course was into every craft she could try --- I'm not sure about her, but I think my favorite was the wreath making...although there was a lot of sap on our hands afterwards. But the best part of the day was just being with family and friends and celebrating the season together...listening to Christmas carols, laughing, enjoying the fun... We'll definitely go back next year.


Pierogie day!!

An Unwin tradition - Pierogies... while our Unwin family in Michigan had about 15 people to make 600, we had 4 to make 100, and we had a blast! For those of you who don't know - pierogies are wonderful potato and cheese filled delicacies originating from the Unwin Polish heritage. I've heard them best described as delicious, amazing, did I mention delicacies? Ok...to the pierogie novice, they can be described as kind of similar to ravioli - but the dough is yummier, and they are filled with (as I mentioned) mashed potatoes and cheese. There are just not enough good words to describe. So...the kids were ready to go. Steve, bless his heart, indulged my idea to go ahead and make them when he got home from work, even though he was truly exhausted...but as he agreed - these are pierogies we are talking about. Now, the effort put into these small edible bites of joy is quite intensive. The entire process took about 4 1/2 hours...not including clean up. But it's sooooo worth it... We did give the kids an early Christmas gift, which made the afternoon that much more fun - aprons and chef hats...now, it's on to the eating!!! YEAH!!!



One morning. 2 hours (well, 2 1/2). 360+ Middle school, high school and college students all in one room (ok, and some leaders and parents too). Why? To worship Christ, through our commitment to make disciples in this world. This was such a GREAT morning. We wanted to have an opportunity to really just focus on world missions with our students - to bring to the forefront that all of us are called to go - whether it's physically going to a foreign land or by supporting and sending with our finances, resources and prayers. It's clear that God's plan for some reason is using us, His children, to tell others about His amazing love...

So...2 1/2 hours - highlights included: the world geography song by the animaniacs (ok, Patrick introduced everyone to the world with this song - I miss wacko, yacko & dot!); worship led by Logan Martin (what a talent and a heart for Jesus - thanks to Him and the rest of the worship team! - on a side note - check out his cd on itunes!); inspiring drama by high school students with monologues they wrote based on the lives of 5 amazing Christian missionaries (C.T. Studd, Gladys Aylward, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor); video testimonies from Kathy Fairley and Paul Newman, members of Salem Alliance who have extraordinary God stories from the mission field; interview with Mark Lynch the CM&A district contact for those interested in world missions; prayer time for the world and each other led by Steve Dangaran; strong challenge from our lead pastor, John Stumbo, about the names of the people groups who have yet to hear about Jesus, and the numbers of peoples who have yet to hear...and how we need to go!; and then a call for the students to say I am committed, as God allows, to give my life as a foreign missionary. 84 students walked forward that morning - WOW! 1/3 of the world hasn't heard...and these 84 are saying, Here I am Lord, send me! It was a humbling, exciting, thrilling, challenging, inspiring time... Each student got a book, most of which were copies of the missionary biographies of the lives they had already heard about that morning. I can't wait to see how God works in the lives of each of these people to confirm His call on their life, and how He'll use and provide through those just as committed to missions by giving of their resources to send those who are to go.

Reach - a student missions movement. We don't want this to be a one-time, one-morning thing. Our prayer is that God will instill in all of us a desire and passion to serve, and to go and make disciples of all nations...

©2009 Until... | by TNB